Spring Breakers ★★★½

Music is repetition. The repeated delivery of the same note amidst an arrangement of other notes builds structure and gives shape to a piece of music. For better or worse, Spring Breakers is a song, and Harmony Korine understands the musical effects of repetition as much has he does the notions of theme and tone.

This film – easily the most accessible of Korine's work that I've seen to date – exudes style, both in the narrative structure and complete sensorial depiction of spring break. It's a feast for the eyes, bathed in neons and considered colour grading that builds an almost other-worldly vision of Florida. But it's also an often overwhelming exploration of auditory themes, with music ranging from intense Skrillex dubstep, minimal Cliff Martinez undertones, Gucci Mane ghetto rap and even a Britney Spears ballad, all interwoven throughout the film's saga to build a bizarre melting pot for the ears. And it all works, often really well.

And repetition is important to the film, where recurrent dialogue samples are harnessed to reinforce and accentuate the tone of the story, each echo not diminished but instead evoking a slightly different perspective. Korine's repetition feels textural, as if it helps to give depth and friction to his tale.

"Just pretend it's a video game. Like you're in a fucking movie," one character says early in the film as she psychs up her comrades and they begin their metamorphosis. The girls in this film have completely unrelatable motivations. Whether delusions of grandeur, inexplicable urges to explore their dark sides, or just purely naive stupidity, it's extremely difficult to find much sympathy or empathy for them and the scenarios in which they find themselves. And yet like many crime stories that have come before, their downward spiral is tantalizingly difficult to turn away from. The whole narrative does feel like a video game, with characters vascilating between fragile, expendable, and sometimes indestructible. Its nudity, weapons and music all feel like superficial cover art for content that is deeper than what can be seen on the surface.

Like all of the films of Harmony Korine that I've seen, I have a difficult time deciding whether I enjoyed this movie. So instead I'll loop back to my original analogy. Spring Breakers is a song that I genuinely respect and admire. It hits some great beats, and I admire the work that's gone into it on many different levels. But I won't be adding it to a playlist anytime soon.